We all have misconceptions about how the physical and natural world works.
And there can be science questions that students don’t feel comfortable asking in class or would like to ask outside of class. Such as “Do tree’s breathe?”, “ What is the difference between strength and hardness?”, “Where do puddles go to?”, “Why doesn’t a twig conduct electricity?”
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a Science site where younger students could get help with their questions?
The good news is there is a site, The Science Master, and it’s been set up on Edublogs to provide a safe learning environment for students.
About the Science Master
The Science Master has been designed for children/pupils to ask questions that they might feel that they cannot ask in a class environment. To some of us asking questions in a public forum can be quite a daunting experience.
Is it safe? It’s an Edublogs site. The children/pupils are not asked for an email address, or their real name. They are just asked for a name and some idea of their age. They find their answer by following the website as answers will be linked to the information supplied. The site will obviously only offer answers to real questions (all questions are checked before publication).
However these questions to the Science Master will not, in most cases, get a direct answer. The Science Master and his friends will try to give the questioner(s) a pathway that will help them investigate the question at their own level of understanding and arrive at possible solutions. They are the scientists.
Using the Science Master
They can comment on their own investigations and other readers can add their comments (including the Science Master). This is the blogging environment.
Here’s the answer to a question asked by a student!
Final Thoughts from the Science Master
“I have been using Edublogs in a variety of ways for the last 10 years so when I was invited to develop the Aston Tower, Science Master site Edublogs became my first choice as a tool to build what then, and still is, a fairly unique site.
The kids loved it, criticized it, and helped develop it, as well as apparently enjoying it!
I hope you do the same!”
If you believe a blog on Edublogs.org or one of our Campus networks violates our Terms of Service or infringes on your copyrights, please let us know using the form below.
For copyright complaints, make sure that you have first tried to contact the blog owner directly and have given them sufficient time to reply. We ask for this because we find that the majority of copyright violations are a result of a misunderstanding of fair use in education. This method ensures that the educator or student in question can learn from their mistakes.
Many blogs will have a contact page, contact information on a sidebar, or you can leave a comment on the page/post in question.
Keeping in mind that laws and policies vary depending on where you are and what age you work with, there are some common sense tips we should all follow.
The discussion below was inspired by comments left by educators on this Edublogger post over the past few weeks.
Is it fact, fiction, hype or fear?
Let us start by discussing the concerns of students working online and why we need to care before looking at some common sense tips.
As middle school teacher Jabiz Rasidana says:
“What, exactly is it, that everyone is so afraid of?”
Too often media creates hysteria about Internet predators leading school districts to respond to parent and teacher concerns by blocking any kind of social networking while failing to highlight the positive aspects achieved when students collaborate online as part of a global community.
Gail Desler highlights:
While we recognize that online predators pose a threat, about 1% of child abuse and sexual abuse cases, and we certainly do not dismiss the need to teach our students about safety issues, such as “grooming,” we also want all students to learn to use the Internet effectively and ethically.
Our middle school counselors, for instance, report that over 60% of their case load involves handling and defusing cyberbullying and “sexting” issues – mainly from smart phones. Pretty much 100% of the time, the parents are clueless as to how their children are using the Internet.
Digital citizenship should be built into media literacy —media literacy as a must-have skill for the 21st century.
Internet safety is best taught at school and not at home (sorry, parents).
And like Kathleen McGready says:
The biggest thing is … you can’t just do one off lessons on cyber safety. Cyber safety is not a separate subject.
Through being heavily involved in blogging, my grade two class has opportunities almost every day to discuss cyber safety issues and appropriate online behaviours in an authentic setting.
When we’re writing blog posts and comments together, a wide range of issues come up incidentally. The discussions are so rich and purposeful and my students now have an excellent understanding of the do’s and don’ts of internet safety.
Most of us agreed that:
- Teaching students what can and what shouldn’t be shared online can’t be boiled down to a few lessons.
- It is best if the topic is brought up often and in context when working with any web technology.
What do we need to consider?
The reality is that we’ve got to face the questions and concerns raised when students are online head on.
Our world is increasingly connected, and our students need to know how to interact online safely and with some level of privacy. The trouble is that educators, administrators, online web tools, politicians, and parents just aren’t sure what that looks like yet. And for some reason, a consensus decision isn’t likely anytime soon. Either way, we must educate students about the expectations we have of them when they are online and about the digital footprint they leave behind.
We need to educate our students on how to work in a safe online environment.
As Kathleen McGeady commented,
“I don’t think it matters that much what your actual policies are on photos/avatars/no images etc as long as you’re having conversations and doing something!”
Here’s some things to consider and our advice when working online with your students.
Tip #1: Set clear guidelines
It’s crucial to have clear guidelines so that all parents and students are aware of what is and isn’t appropriate.
The best approach is to get students involved with creating the guidelines.
For example. Pernille Ripp has an excellent activity using the analogy The Internet is like a Mall. She tells them that going on the internet is like going to the mall without your parents’ supervision and asks them to share how do they stay safe at the mall? This takes the students from a topic they already understand and know to applying those same principles online.
Check out these examples:
- Pernille Ripp’ s Internet Safety Plan and Blogging Introduction
- Kathleen McGeady’s Introduction to Bloggigng Handout, Guide to Getting the Most out of 2KM’s Class blog and Our Blog Guidelines
- Edublogs Guide to Using Blogs With Students
Tip #2: Use of student names
This is usually one of the first items to think about before using any online services with students.
Can they use their full name, first name only, last initial, or maybe a made-up username? In general, obtaining parent permission for minors is important when using anything other than a made-up or “code” name.
Most educators use the student’s first name only combined with a combination of letters and/or numbers that might represent their year level, room number, school or class blog such as amberh4 or adrianhan10 for student usernames and blog URLs.
Tip #3: Use of photos
Use of student photos, and especially linking names with specific photos, are also questions that come up when blogging, sharing videos, or using other web services online. Even though 99.9% of visitors to your class blog will be well meaning parents, students, community members, or interested visitors from around the world, the unfortunate reality is that those with bad intentions can also visit public sites. There are also cases where the personal background of a student might mean they need more privacy and anonymity than others.
Decisions on whether to use student photographs or not is often more about protecting educators from having problems with parents or administrators who have concerns about cyber-predators.
A safe compromise is to only use photo taken from behind students.
On the other hand, one of the most engaging and powerful aspects of blogging comes from the sense of pride and ownership that only happens when you put yourself out there for the world to see. For this reason, many teachers do use student images.
As middle school teacher Jabiz Rasidana points out on Intrepid Teacher,
“the most rewarding experiences I have had online, the most authentic and personal relationships have been because I shared more than I should have.”
And the same is true for students. We put our thoughts and ideas out there, and everyone learns from it – especially the blogger.
Kathleen McGready says:
Unlike many classes, I identify students by first name and photo. Of course I gain parent permission for this and 100% of my parents have been supportive. Last year, I did not publish photos of students and I think there were more cons than pros. The parents and the classes we work with around the world are able to connect more with our blog and student work by seeing who the authors are.
Taking it a step further, any student comments or posts may need to be kept private behind a password. This is understandable – imagine if you were the one student in a class that for one reason or another shouldn’t have your photo online especially when it comes to your avatar. All of your classmates have a photo avatar while you are left with a funny image or drawing. You probably wouldn’t be too happy about this.
An alternative solution is to get your students to create their own avatar using these online reources without using a photo!
The key is to have the conversations with your administrators and parents about the use of photos online — so you can address the needs of your community.
Tip #4: Public vs Private
Many times, cautious administrators or teachers will opt to keep all blogs private.
However, being locked behind a password greatly limits the global learning aspect that encourages outsiders to visit and comment on student blogs. Further still, it can really stifle the energy and motivation created when students know they are writing so that their family and friends (and even strangers) can see.
- If students share a video they created in a class presentation they will probably get excited.
- If students publish the same video on the web for all to see, they feel accomplished and professional!
From experience we’ve found that when educators allow their students to publish their content in a public space they spend more time educating their students and reinforcing appropriate online behavior than those that use private sites locked behind a password.
And don’t forget, on public blogs you can set up systems like Leigh Newton uses where all comments and posts spark an email to him, the administrator.
Here’s how you moderate all comments and posts on student blogs — if you need/want to take this approach.
Tip # 5: Student work and confidentiality
However, there are occasions when you really do need to consider confidentially.
There was one example we ran across recently where a teacher of special needs students had a class blog. By allowing students to comment on the blog, the students were identified as part of the special education program. This lead to the important discussion about if this violates confidentiality for those students. In this case, the school administrators erred on the side of caution – and the wishes of the students and parents involved. The conclusion was to change the class blog to private so that only registered and approved visitors could visit it. The parents and students in the class were all given accounts to use.
Teacher feedback, specifically anything that can be interpreted as grades, is another area that educators that are blogging with students should be aware of. It is natural to leave comments on blogs for students, but there are other times when more detailed feedback may be best left for private.
As Common Sense Media puts it in one of their 10 beliefs,
“We believe in teaching our kids to be savvy, respectful and responsible media interpreters, creators, and communicators. We can’t cover their eyes but we can teach them to see.”
Here’s some helpful resources
So what next?
Like the continuous discussions we should be having with our students, the dialog should continue among educators, parents, and policy makers to ensure we are maximizing learning freedoms while encouraging safe and smart web habits.
Please leave your thoughts or questions below for our blogging community to continue to learn from each other!
One of the most exciting things about being part of the Edublogs team is that we get to see all of the excellent uses of class and student blogs around the globe.
We recently learned that one of our users, Donal O’ Mahony from Portmarnock Community School in Ireland, had been nominated for a European eLearning Award at the EMINENT Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In fact, at the conference it was announced that Donal and his history class received the Europe’s Digital Heritage award for their student blogging which can be found here.
You can see all of the 50 shortlisted projects here.
Donal was kind enough to answer a few questions we sent his way in hopes of sharing a bit more about his class blogging experience with others.
Where and what do you teach?
I teach at Portmarnock Community School, Dublin, Ireland (here). I teach mainly history and some religious education. The school is co-educational and has about 825 students.
How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging about two years, firstly for myself with eLearningIsland (here) and the with my students (here). We moved from a class blog to each student (30 of them) creating their own individual blog (here).
What do you want to accomplish with using blogs with your students?
- Engagement with history in a way that that is relevant to their world
- Digital literacy – an understanding of how to work their way around a Web 2 environment
- Representation of work that is beyond copy and pen
- Visibility on the WWW encouraging responsibility
What are the benefits you have seen so far?
Interest, wanting to be in the ICT mediated-class, pride in work, ability to be able to articulate about matters digital, an eye for design (they loved playing about with themes, some of them using the custom feature).
What challenges have you faced with blogging in your classroom?
- Time, I believe is the greatest challenge. EduBlogs helps here in having WordPress configured for the use of the teacher giving time back to him/her to focus on teaching/learning
- The computer room in schools can be a “variable” environment – Its the simple things that cause problems! Flash may not be updated on all machines, Broadband is down occasionally (we do generally not have paid technical support for ICT in schools in Ireland) – the student however can also work on their blog at home which many did
- Different levels of digital literacy from the student who is making his her first online steps to the student who is more advanced in their abilities – just like teaching the normal class really!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
My own blog deals with some of the issues around ICT in education. I recommend following it!
We recommend following it too.
Also check out the slides from the presentation below.
One thing in particular to look for in his process is that he started with a simple class blog and then gradually moved into students having their own individual blogs. This approach helps students understand what blogging is all about, sets the tone and blogging rules, and introduces the blogging process.
Thanks Donal for sharing with us and congratulations to you and your students for the honor!
Your privacy, especially that of the students and schools that we serve, is critically important to us.
In addition, we have summarized the most important and relevant points of our privacy policies and practices here at Edublogs.
For any questions about the privacy and security of our platform, please contact us at email@example.com.
You can also find the Edublogs Terms of Service here.
What is Edublogs used for?
- We are a web publishing platform, built on the open-source WordPress content management system, to provide blogs and websites to students and educations.
- We are used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades PreK–12 and educators.
What data does Edublogs collect?
- We don’t ask you for personal information unless we truly need it.
- We only require a username to create accounts for students.
- A valid email address is required for adult users that create registered accounts.
- Those who engage in financial transactions with Edublogs – by upgrading to a Pro account, for example – are asked to provide additional information, including as necessary the personal and financial information required to process those transactions.
- Beyond the above, no other personal information is collected. We do NOT collect education records, directory information, biometric data, health data, behavioral data, or other sensitive data.
What data does Edublogs share?
- We do not rent or sell personally-identifying information to anyone.
- We only use the information and data we collect for the purpose for which it was collected. We do share data with a limited number of 3rd parties explicitly to assist with the operation of our platform, including web hosts, email sending, payment processing, and support services. We have vetted the policies of the 3rd parties we work with and a full and updated list is found in the sections below.
- The Edublogs platform is 100% advertising free. We do not display ads, and we do not participate in any services that track visitors to display targeted ads on other websites.
- We are a web publishing platform that allows registered users to upload and publish content. We have filtering tools in place to monitor user content for inappropriate misuse of our platform, such as spam.
- All users have the right to a copy of their content and data that we store, and we will fully delete or anonymize any user’s data on request. We will verify the identity of the requestor via email, and parents have these rights for their minor children.
How safe is Edublogs?
- For children under 13, student accounts can only be created under a teacher or school-sponsored account (using an invite code), otherwise, express written permission from a parent or guardian is required.
- Account registration is required in order to access the web publishing platform and before any data is shared with us.
- By default, blogs and student-created content are private and can only be made public with the approval of a teacher (when attached to a class account) or by express written request by a parent.
- We aim to make it as simple as possible for you to control the content that is visible to the public, seen by search engines, kept private, and permanently deleted.
- We fully encrypt all user data both at rest and in transit, including all system backups and user-uploaded files and content.
- All employees receive regular training on privacy practices, and we utilize detailed audit logging of employee and staff activity to track when customer data is accessed or changed.
- We have a security breach notification plan in place, which can be found below.
- We follow best security practices and can provide 3rd party reports about our security and privacy practices on request.
What are the rights of users and parents?
- If you are a registered user or have left comments on our site you can request to see or download the data we have about you.
- You can also request “to be forgotten” and we will erase any personally identifiable data we have about you.
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- We will verify the identity of those requesting copies of data or to be forgotten via email. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the process started.
Who We Are
Incsub, LLC is a registered corporation in Alabama, USA. Our mailing address is:
PO BOX 548 #88100
Birmingham, AL 35201
For any privacy-related questions, you can reach us at email@example.com.
Sharing Your Data
We use third-party services (data processors) across our sites. The extent to which your data is shared with these providers depends on your use of our services, and we list the specific third-parties in use (with links to their privacy policies) in the sections below.
Each third-party provider has been vetted by our security team to ensure that privacy policies and practices meet or exceed the same levels of compliance and standards that we follow. Where appropriate and available, we hold additional signed Data Privacy Agreements with these companies as an additional layer of accountability in order to help ensure your data is safe and secure.
We disclose potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only to our employees, contractors and affiliated organizations that (i) need to know that information in order to process it on our behalf or to provide services, and (ii) that have agreed, in writing, not to disclose it to others. Some of those employees, contractors and affiliated organizations may be located outside of your home country; by using our websites and services, you consent to the transfer of such information to them. We will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information to anyone.
We may be required to disclose an individual’s personal information in response to a lawful request by public authorities, including to meet national security or law enforcement requirements.
If we ever were to engage in any onward transfers of your data with third parties for a purpose other than which it was originally collected or subsequently authorized, we would provide you with an opt-out choice to limit the use and disclosure of your personal data.
Personal Data We Collect
- If you create an account on one of our sites, you will be prompted to select a Username and provide your Email Address.
- When choosing a Username, we strongly advise you not use or include your real name. Usernames cannot be changed.
- Your Username and Email Address are stored in the website’s database. Your Email Address is used to send you an email with a link to set your password or to send you an email with a link to reset your password in the event you forget your password.
- Once an account is created, you must contact us to have it deleted.
- Accounts have a numeric User ID assigned to them when they are created. The User ID cannot be changed.
- You may optionally complete your Profile by providing your First Name, Last Name, Website (URL) and/or Biographical info. These additional details are also saved in the website’s database. You may edit these details, and your Email Address, in your Profile at any time.
- You may also choose how your name is displayed (your Display Name) to visitors to the site (e.g. in comments you create) in your Profile.
- Your Username, First Name, Last Name and Email Address are accessible by employees on the site.
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Publishing Content (Comments, Pages, Posts, Forums)
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- If you upload media (e.g. images) to the website (in forums, posts, or comments), you should avoid uploading images with EXIF GPS location data included. Visitors to the website can download and extract any location data included in images on the website.
- Visitors using the website’s REST API interface can correlate uploaded media to a particular user. This may allow such visitors to map a user to a particular time and location if EXIF GPS location data was included in the uploaded media.
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- When visitors leave comments on one of our sites we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.
- Comments may require manual approval by one of our employees or site owners.
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Embedded Content From Other Websites
- Scribd (US)
- SlideShare (LinkedIn)
- Speaker Deck
- Spotify (US)
- WordPress Plugin Directory
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- All marketing emails sent by us will include an unsubscribe link in the footer of the email. Emails sent to you may also include standard tracking, including open and click activities.
- To comply with accounting and legal requirements, we keep data on financial transactions in the systems above for up to 10 years.
Hosting and API Services
If you are a registered user or have left comments on our site you can request to see or download the data we have about you.
Typically for visitors that have left comments, the data will be their email address, any IP addresses assigned to them at the time of leaving the comments and the user agent strings of the browsers they used. The rest of the data is public as published by the visitors.
For registered users or paying customers, this will also include profile information and download, payment, and support ticket histories.
You can also request “to be forgotten” and we will erase any personally identifiable data we have about you. Of course, this excludes data we need for administrative or security purposes or if we are required by law to retain some of the data.
An individual who seeks access, or who seeks to correct, amend, or delete inaccurate data, should direct his/her query to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond within a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed one week.
Protecting Your Data
The security and reliability of our service is our number one priority. We invest heavily in the training of our staff and our infrastructure to ensure that best practices are followed in everything that we do.
See wordpress.org/about/security for details on the security of the WordPress core itself.
- Prevention is best when it comes to security, and as a first step, we follow all WordPress Code Standards in the plugins that we build and use.
- In addition, we have an extensive internal review and Quality Assurance process in place specifically to prevent potential security vulnerabilities in our plugins and services.
- Every Incsub employee and contractor goes through background checks and an onboarding process that includes a trial period where access to customer data is provided only when working directly under the supervision of another staff member.
- All staff only have access to systems that are directly required to complete the functions of their job. We use dual factor authentication for all critical systems and communications services, and automatically log all staff activity using an internal logging tool, Google ‘G’ Suite features, and Amazon Cloud Trail.
- All staff (including any contractors) undergo initial training to ensure proper understanding of all security-related processes. Staff regularly attend industry conferences and otherwise stay informed of best practices and relevant trends. Staff review and agree, in writing, to all policies and procedures annually.
- We only use third-party services, such as Amazon Web Services, that are fully vetted and adhere to the highest levels of privacy and security practices.
Data Breach Procedures
Should any event occur where customer data has been lost, stolen, or potentially compromised, our policy is to alert our customers via email no later than 48 hours of our team becoming aware of the event. We will also report such incident to any required data protection authority. We will work closely with any customers affected to determine next steps such as any end-user notifications, needed patches, and how to avoid any similar event in the future.
Privacy Shield Frameworks
In compliance with the Privacy Shield Principles, Incsub, LLC commits to resolve complaints about our collection or use of your personal information. EU and Swiss individuals with inquiries or complaints regarding our Privacy Shield policy should first contact Incsub at email@example.com or by mail at the address at the top of this policy.
If we do not resolve your complaint, you may contact JAMS, our designated independent dispute resolution provider for Privacy Shield inquiries. You can contact JAMS, which is based in the United States, through its website at the following link: https://www.jamsadr.com/eu-us-privacy-shield
If neither Incsub, LLC nor JAMS resolves your complaint, you may, in certain circumstances, be able to seek binding arbitration through the Privacy Shield Panel. You can read more about binding arbitration in Annex I to the Privacy Shield Principles.
Incsub, LLC commits to cooperate with EU data protection authorities (DPAs) and the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) and comply with the advice given by such authorities with regard to human resources data transferred from the EU and Switzerland in the context of the employment relationship.
Our commitments under the Privacy Shield are subject to the investigatory and enforcement powers of the United States Federal Trade Commission.
- April 8, 2020 – Updated mailing address.
- May 1, 2019 – Added information about Hotjar under the Analytics section.
- July 6, 2018 – Added information about the Privacy Shield Frameworks.
- May 25, 2018 – Updated language of the policy to be more user-friendly, specifically outlining requirements in preparation for meeting the GDPR.
- September 28, 2016 – Removed clauses for EU/Swiss Safe Harbor Program.
- June 11, 2013 – Added in clauses for EU/Swiss Safe Harbor Program.